Monthly Archives: May 2008

Peggy Noonan on Scott McClellan's Controversial Book

Peggy Noonan’s thoughtful and fair perspective on contemporary politics often amazes me. I read her "Declarations" column in the Wall Street Journal every Saturday, always with real anticipation. Such was the case when she responded to Barack Obama’s famous speech given after the first Jeremiah Wright controversy. She was quite moved by the speech and took a lot of heat for saying so. (Astute readers will also recall that Peggy Noonan wrote a personal memoir on Ronald Reagan, for whom she worked, and a biography of Pope John Paul, whom she loved deeply!)

Well, Ms. Noonan did it again today. She wrote a piece titled, "But Is It True?" Her response is to Scott McClellan’s newly released memoir, Cover
What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and the Culture of Deception
. Again Ms. Noonan surprises many by asking the question that really matters. (I should noted, that I have not read the book and may not take the time to do so. Ms. Noonan

By |May 31st, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Take the Warnings About the Sun Seriously

I have had my share of sunburn over the course of my life. In the South we grew up out-of-doors and I worked in the heat and sunshine and generally was careful, though sun screen was not very macho in my time. I did get an occasional burn and felt it for a day or so.

On Monday I walked in a Memorial Day parade and then went to a minor league baseball game (it was cloudy when we left home and we were sure it would rain) where I sat outside another three hours. By the end of the day I was toast. I clearly experienced heat exhaustion and have not completely recovered yet. Symptoms include muscular discomfort, dehydration, sleeplessness, headaches, fever, chills and, worst of all, severe nausea. Combined with my not all that robust health situation I have had it pretty tough this week. Please pray for me that I might recover and preach this coming Sunday at First Reformed Church in South Holland.

While I am at it would you also pray for the John Fawcett family.

By |May 30th, 2008|Categories: Personal|

What is the UCC and Should We Care?

The United Church of Christ (UCC) has made the news of late. The primary reason for this interest has been the long time association of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Trinity is atypical of the UCC in several ways.

It is one of only a small handful of African-American congregations in the UCC. The UCC was only birthed in 1957 and was the result of the merger of several different strands of Protestantism into an ecumenically inclined new entity that was inclined toward a liberal stance from the beginning. And from the beginning the UCC has been a predominantly white denomination.

But Trinity does fit the UCC perfectly in other ways. It is politically and socially liberal. It also embraces a wide array of theologically liberal positions, especially on the acceptance of same-sex marriage. The UCC accepted a number of prominent gay/lesbian churches into membership a few years ago. 

By |May 29th, 2008|Categories: The Church|

The True Spirit of Sport

My readers know that I truly love baseball. I grew up on the game with my dad. I have come to see so many parallels between this great game and life itself. It was once said, about professional baseball: "Baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face."Images
This prophecy sounds just like some I heard in the 1980s. It was actually made by Albert Spalding in 1881. The game lives on and still attracts people in large numbers. There are problems but the game is healthy.

One of my friends sent me an ESPN video clip on a college women’s softball game from a few days ago. Even if you do not like baseball (or softball) you can truly appreciate this amazing story. Watch it and see it you are not moved by

By |May 28th, 2008|Categories: Baseball|

The "Confessional" Debate

Several responses to my blogs have recently underscored the very reason why ACT 3 is committed to the mission of the whole Church. Various comments you can read reflect the older "Reformed" or "Lutheran" confessionalism of the kind that divided evangelical churches over the "proper" theological understanding of the Lord’s Supper.

If you want to see specifically what I am talking about then read some of the comments from several Lutherans, of the LCMS family, that were posted last week. These are obviously fine people holding to a view that is still held by many such Lutherans. The issues they address are serious (especially to them) because they threaten the unity of a large and conservative Christian family. The LCMS has experienced turmoil over these issues before and this has gone on for many years.

Some yeas ago I spent

By |May 27th, 2008|Categories: Unity of the Church|

Indiana Jones Again

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Director: Steven Spielberg
124 minutes

The previous Indiana Jones movies provided great fun and pure entertainment, if nothing else. Some people try to get all kinds of philosophical insights from such movies. I would much prefer to simply enjoy them and relax. When we last saw Dr. Jones it was 1938 and the world was on the brink of war with the Nazis. Indy chased down the evil doers in pursuit of the Holy Grail.

The new movie certainly fits the category of action/adventure. It is filled with improbable conflicts and near-death experiences. Jones (Harrison Ford) always finds a way to escape in the most amazing ways. Even many years older he remains the amazing professor. This time his nemesis is no longer Nazis but Communists. His arch enemy is a woman (Cate Blanchett). And Indiana finds a son he never knew he had and gets married at the end

By |May 26th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Dear First Reformed Family

Many of you know, and some of you have thus interceded for me accordingly, that I have been preaching regularly for some months at First Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois. This very old church dates back to the pre-Civil War era and the Dutch settlement of a town that became associated with the Dutch culture and tradition in the greater Chicago area.

This church, at the center of the town, has had a marvelous ministry over the years, producing some excellent leaders, missionaries and ministers. The present building, built in 1950 only one year after I was born, is both majestic and functional at the same time. But since the 1970s the church has been in slow decline. The community began to change in the 1970s and 80s and is now nearly 50% African-American in its ethnic makeup. First Reformed decided, some years ago, not to relocate but to stay and minister in historic downtown South Holland. I am not sure if the church knew what this meant at the time but I am increasingly

By |May 25th, 2008|Categories: The Church|


(2001) PG-13
Running Time: 1:52
Trimark Pictures

Songcatcher is a surprisingly lyrical and deeply moving independent film that I discovered last week. It is well cast and brings the viewer into a great story with powerful effect. I loved it.

Dr. Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer) is a professor of music around 1907. The film is rooted in facts but takes liberties in telling the story for sake of the screen. The story opens with Lily becoming disillusioned with the “good old boys” club at the university that prevents her from academic advancement. She decides to make a break and heads for the tiny mountain village of Clover, North Carolina,Photo_05_thumb_2
to visit her schoolmaster sister Elna (Jane Adams). Here she discovers the sheer magic of the mountain music of Appalachia. The music in the film actually comes from the 1882 compilation by

By |May 24th, 2008|Categories: Film|

The Purpose and Mission of ACT 3

As some of you know we recently held our annual three-day ACT 3 Board of Directors meeting. One of the items that we addressed was the need to revise our out-dated Constitution. We drafted the original constitution for this ministry in 1991. Then four people sat in my living room with a dream. We named the ministry Reformation & Revival Ministries. In 2005 we changed it to the present brand and name, ACT 3.

In our revised constitution we state our purpose as a mission in these words:


1. The corporation is a not-for-profit Christian teaching organization; its purposes are to advance the Christian tradition by encouraging obedience to the missional mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ, through the witness of Scripture and the wisdom of the Christian tradition. This is done through (a) teaching and preaching in local congregations, schools, conferences; (b) writing and distributing Christian teaching; (c) advocating an ecumenical vision of the Christian Church through

By |May 23rd, 2008|Categories: ACT 3|

Barack Obama Begins the Fall Campaign

After all the back and forth of the primaries it now appears that Barack Obama will secure the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency. His supporters and campaign staff surely think so as they have now begun the first stages of their active campaign against John McCain. To say the least this will be an election that offers some unusual candidates. Neither fits perfectly the standard party positions.

I think Obama is right to begin his campaign against McCain now. If he waits he loses precious time. Obama has been speaking about McCain far more than Hillary Clinton the past few days. I expect this to continue. Obama is even campaigning in states he has already carried in the primaries or in states he lost. He is working to sign up millions of potential Democrats to vote in November. All of this is important to his strategy.


By |May 22nd, 2008|Categories: Politics|

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